Saturday, April 20, 2013

Was Hernando Roy's Great-Great-Granddaddo?

Normally, I wouldn't think that Emergency!'s Roy DeSoto could possibly be a descendant of 16th-century explorer Hernando de Soto. After all, Roy DeSoto exhibits no Spanish or Hispanic features whatsoever beyond his surname. More tellingly, as a paramedic, he devoted his career to saving lives, whereas de Soto the conquistador left a legacy of violence and death during his tangles with the native peoples of what was to become the American Southeast.*

* Interestingly, Roy DeSoto's partner, John Gage, mentioned himself in one episode as a Native American—yet, to my recollection, at no point during the series' six-season run was he enslaved by Roy DeSoto or infected with smallpox.

Still, tantalizing historico-cultural evidence exists, most readily in the undeniable similarities of their headgear.

Throughout civilization, the helmet has, perhaps more than any other item of apparel, defined a man's nationality and stature, whether he be a Roman centurion, a Viking warrior, an English Roundhead, etc. Even with five centuries standing between de Soto the conquistador and DeSoto the paramedic, their helmets are virtually identical. Yes, Hernando's has a sharp, pointed brim whereas Roy's is gently rounded so as not to poke out the eye of a victim he may be carrying to rescue. And a paramedic would never gild his helmet with gold or festoon it with feathers unless his union was unusually powerful. But the firefighters' helmet is unlike any headgear now extant in the Americas. Nothing else truly resembles it. Thus, it is doubtful that such a unique helmet could have been designed independently in North America during modern times when de Soto and his like were already spreading their influence across the New World, including Station 51's L.A. County, which, of course, was settled by de Soto's brethren. 

I've made a strong case so far. Admittedly, however, I'll need more empirical evidence before I can prove beyond doubt lineage between these two pivotal figures of their respective centuries. So I'd better get down to the American Southeast and start digging.

Or get over to Best Buy and pick up Emergency! on DVD...

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